Xcel proposes replacing transmission line from Alamosa to Antonito

ALAMOSA — It has been 60 years since the transmission line running from Alamosa 39 miles south to Antonito was constructed. Due to natural weathering, lightning strikes and unscheduled interruption of services (power outages), the wooden utility poles, equipment and components need to be replaced, according to Xcel.

Citing potential safety risks associated with the aging structures, Xcel is proposing to replace the existing transmission with a new line sometime in early 2023. In addition to reducing safety concerns, the project, according to the company, “will increase electric reliability and position the region for future economic growth.”

The current 69-kiloVolt transmission line will be rebuilt to 115-kiloVolt design standards, which will increase capacity to serve more customers in the future. Also, wooden utility poles and conductor wires will be removed and rebuilt with fire-resistant steel structures, new conductors and Optical GroundWire (OPGW). OPGW provides a communicator channel to transport system performance data, which helps faster response time in the event the power goes out. OPGW also provides a ground for lightning strikes.

Because the 69-kiloVolt transmission line is crucial to providing uninterrupted service to customers in the area, it cannot be removed to make room to construct a new line. This requires the company to find a new route to run the replacement line, either in a new corridor immediately adjacent and parallel to the existing line or in a separate corridor located near to the line’s current location. Options for those corridors are currently being evaluated with five different options currently under consideration.

It is anticipated that the proposal for the new location will be determined in early 2022 with construction beginning the following year. As that target date for determination is just a few months away, Xcel held an open house on Wednesday at Society Hall in Alamosa.

Members of the public stopped by, where they could review relevant project information on display while a group of Xcel representatives were on hand to answer questions and explain the situation further.

Xcel Energy states that the company is committed to working with communities in developing a route for the transmission line that will minimize impact to those communities and the surrounding environment where the line would be located while making sure that whatever corridor is selected aligns with engineering and safety standards.

Examples of the issues they take under consideration in selecting a corridor were on display at the open house, including those places prohibited from consideration — like airports — as well as areas devoted to agriculture, areas with habitats for wildlife, areas with an abundance of trees and houses plus culturally important areas or areas where historic structures listed on the national registry are located.

The open house in Alamosa, which followed a similar event held in La Jara the evening before, is part of the preliminary stage of the project that includes public outreach to locals where Xcel representatives discuss and identify the different options that are being considered.

The schedule for the project includes the following dates:

  • Transmission routing study: September 2021 – February 2022
  • Public outreach: October 2021 – February 2022
  • Preferred route selection: February 2022
  • Permitting: Spring 2022
  • Surveying and easement procurement: Spring – Winter 2022
  • Construction: 2023

Another public meeting will be held in Alamosa sometime prior to the end of the year. Announcements about that meeting will be distributed to the public in advance of the event.

In the meantime, residents are encouraged to go to the Xcel website at www.transmission.xcelenergy.com/Projects/Colorado/Alamosa-to-Antonito-Transmission-Line to get further information on the project. People are also encouraged to provide feedback by submitting a comment form on or before Feb. 4, 2022, for consideration during the routing study and local permitting process.

Anyone with questions or concerns can also communicate via email at [email protected] or by calling tollfree 1-855-839-886.